Jason Plato has taken his fifth pole position of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season in qualifying at the Rockingham circuit in Northamptonshire.
Plato set a new qualifying lap record with a time of 1m22.448s in his MG KX Momentum Racing MG6. That was more than six tenths of a second clear of the Honda Yuasa Racing Team’s Gordon Shedden who was next up but, by comparison, a mere 0.014s ahead of third-placed Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Racing Honda Civic.
Mat Jackson produced a late spurt of speed to qualify fourth fastest in his Redstone Racing Ford Focus. Plato’s and Shedden’s team-mates Andy Neate and Matt Neal were fifth and sixth. It is worth pointing out that Neal, the reigning Champion and current points leader, is racing this weekend in pain with a broken hand and his car in qualifying was carrying the maximum 45kgs of success ballast.
Oxford’s Plato commented: “From the moment I put my bum in the car this morning it’s felt great – we’ve really moved it on but the job’s only half done. It’s important I convert pole into a win or two tomorrow as I really need to take a bite out of the Honda drivers in the championship.”
Shedden added: “I’m both happy and disappointed. On one hand as a team we’ve got an awful lot out of the car in qualifying. The lap time I’ve done is a second faster than pole in 2011 but I’m still over six tenths off pole – another six tenths cover second down to 11th! Jason obviously got one heck of a lap out of it, but tomorrow is very different with race tactics such as tyre management coming into it…”
And said Jordan: “It was a pretty uneventful session for me. I only did one flying lap and was quite happy with the time so decided save some fresh sets of tyres for tomorrow’s races – it a very abrasive circuit here after all. There was no point trying to challenge Jason as it was never going to happen.”
Meanwhile there was an impressive performance from newcomer Howard Fuller, 14th fastest in Team HARD.’s Honda Civic and just a second away from Shedden’s front-row time…
Tomorrow’s three races will be shown live as part of a mammoth seven-hour broadcast (11.00am-6.00pm) on the ITV4 and ITV4 HD channels plus the www.itv.com website.
Qualifying, British Touring Cars, Rockingham Sat 22 Sept (provisional):
1. Jason Plato (GBR), MG KX Momentum Racing/MG6, 1m22.448s (84.70mph)
2. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Honda Yuasa Racing Team/Honda Civic, +0.636s
3. Andrew Jordan (GBR), Pirtek Racing/Honda Civic, +0.650s
4. Mat Jackson (GBR), Redstone Racing/Ford Focus, +0.730s
5. Andy Neate (GBR), MG KX Momentum Racing/MG6, +0.852s
6. Matt Neal (GBR), Honda Yuasa Racing Team/Honda Civic, +0.888s
7. Frank Wrathall (GBR), Dynojet/Toyota Avensis, +0.946s
8. Robert Collard (GBR), eBay Motors/BMW 320si, +1.050s
9. Jeff Smith (GBR), Pirtek Racing/Honda Civic, +1.205s
10. Adam Morgan (GBR), Speedworks Motorsport/Toyota Avensis, +1.238s